Again, former president Donald Trump is trending on the news. But this time, it isn’t because of something he said or an ongoing lawsuit. Instead, it’s about one of his properties that someone bought using illegal money.

That someone is one of Congolese President Denis Sassou-Nguesso’s children. Since the condo was bought with stolen money, the authorities have made a move to seize it. Here’s the full story.

It Starts With The Manhattan Federal Court

This interesting story began when the Manhattan federal court received a complaint on Friday. The file, talks about an apartment in Donald Trump’s luxury Manhattan tower that was purchased illegally.

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The document mentioned how the Congolese treasury embezzled hundreds of millions of dollars. Afterward, part of the funds was used to purchase a luxury apartment in the Southern District of New York for President Nguesso’s daughter. Her name is Claudia Lemboumba Sassou-Nguesso.

The Condo Is Truly Luxurious

It’s worth pointing out that Nguesso’s daughter bought this Trump condo for $7 million. Is it worth it? It might be. The former listing for the apartment shows that it is a corner space that overlooks Central Park and the Hudson River.

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It also includes some special features like a gracious entrance gallery and a windowed eat-in kitchen with a washer/dryer. It’s also got two bedrooms with spectacular views, but there’s one major problem. No pets allowed.

The US Will Repossess The Property

The complaint further states that the United States will Repossess this unit in Trump’s tower. Why? Because investigations have traced that the money used to purchase the property is linked to unlawful activities.

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The US is against fraud. Once an individual is caught, the stolen money and possessions get seized by the state. It seems this will happen to Claudia Lemboumba Sassou-Nguesso

Who Is Sassou-Nguesso?

For now, the condo bought is owned by Sassou-Nguesso’s daughter. However, the money was gotten by the president. So, he’s the main person of interest in this “fraud” case. But who is Sassou-Nguesso?

Source: Britannica

Denis Sassou Nguesso is the current President of the Republic of the Congo. However, many find this position controversial since he’s held power since 1979. At the same time, his reign is also met with backlash as people consider him to be a “breathtakingly corrupt kleptocrat.”

It’ll Be Complicated To Take The Property

Seizing the new Trump apartment will be tricky. The Trump Organization owns some parts of the Trump International Hotel and Tower, while private individuals own the rest.

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So, taking ownership of her slice of the tower will be complicated. The court will have to determine whether she bought it from the Trump Organization or someone else.

‘It’s Not Our Problem’

The Trump Organization responded to questions about the issue surrounding the tower. Spokesperson, Kimberly Benza, said: “If this sale did occur, it would be by a 3rd party unit owner unrelated to our Organization.”

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What does this mean? People online pointed out the humor in the statement. “She just politely said ‘It’s not our problem’.” Irrespective of the meaning, the court may force the organization to check its record or communicate with other owners to find the seller.

The Fraudulent Purchase Was First Brought In 2019

It’s worth noting that the case against Claudia Sassou-Nguesso isn’t recent. Global Witness, an anti-corruption NGO, made a connection between Sassou-Nguesso and the Trump International condo.

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Their findings showed that Sassou-Nguesso first paid $4.000 for a square foot of the residence. This punt was a significant premium over the building’s median square-foot price of $2,521

How Claudia Cunningly Bought The Apartment

There’s a strong possibility Claudia didn’t purchase from the Trump Organization. Research shows that she bought the apartment through a byzantine array of shell companies. These firms and intermediaries sent money from Congo’s public coffers.

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Note that these transfers were also through entities in Portugal, Cyprus, and the British Virgin Islands. Eventually, the stolen money ended up in the United States where Claudia hired a law firm, K&L Gates, to buy an apartment from the Trump Tower.

Sassou-Nguesso Listed Her Cousin As The Unit’s Owner

Sassou-Nguesso is cunning, but the complaint shows how strategically she approached the purchase. The letter talked about how Claudia knew buying directly through the Trump Organization would backfire. So, she listed her cousin as the apartment’s owner.

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Afterward, Claudia’s representative wired the condo seller a deposit of $710,000. They then sent the balance of $6,525,000 roughly a month later. Note that the money used in the purchase was funds stolen from Congo.

The Total Amount Stolen Was $19.5 Million

The condo Claudia bought takes center stage in the fraud case. It is worth $7 million, but it’s not all she stole. The complaint sent to the Manhattan federal court revealed that Claudia took up to $19.5 million.

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The complaint said that Nguesso got the state funds through “shame contracts”, and then used the money to purchase assets for his daughter. 

The Apartment Has Been Vacant Since Purchased

Nguesso’s daughter purchased the beautiful condo in 2019. But despite spending $7 million on the apartment, she doesn’t live there. It’s possible it’s a money laundering scheme or she plans to sell it for a profit.

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However, prosecutors did find some emails from Sassou-Nguesso. They contained plans to decorate the space’s interior. The emails also showed that she transferred more than $400,000 to a firm in Portugal to carry out the job.

The Trump Building Has A History Of Attracting Criminals

Claudia Nguesso isn’t the first “fraud” to buy a condo at Trump’s tower. The building has a long history of attracting investors with a “checkered past.” This was confirmed by Former federal prosecutor, Kenneth McCallion.

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He pointed out that people could pay cash for condos and then hold them for a few years. Afterward, they’d sell them for a profit, and the proceeds will then be “clean money”. This may be the same plan Claudia Nguesso had.

The Case Is Still Ongoing

For now, the Manhattan court hasn’t accused the Trump Organization of any crime. Their primary objective is to proceed with their investigation while filing the appropriate paperwork to seize the property.

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As for the President of the Republic of the Congo, he and his daughter haven’t commented on the situation. However, this silence may change as prosecutors put pressure on the case.